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Marinated Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

5 from 15 community reviews

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This 30-minute lentil salad recipe is made with French green lentils, goat cheese (or feta), and spinach, all marinated in a tangy homemade Dijon vinaigrette dressing. Serve it warm or at room temperature. Save this in your vegetarian main dishes or side salad category!

A serving bowl with brown lentils mixed with spinach and goat cheese crumbles.

I don’t know why lentils are so overlooked. Maybe it’s because of their humble, earthy color and unfortunate relationship to stodgy vegetarian cooking from the last century.

If lentils have gone out of favor in your life for whatever reason, this tasty French-style lentil salad will convince you to bring them back into regular rotation!

French green lentils in a small bowl.

About French green lentils

Compared to regular green or brown lentils, which can be starchier and cook to more of a mushy puree, French lentils become tender but keep their shape after cooking. That makes them a perfect addition to hearty lentil salad.

  • French lentils, sometimes called Le Puy or lentilles du puy, are a mainstay in my pantry right next to chickpeas. These tiny legumes have a beautiful slate-green color and are sooo great to keep on hand for to add to spur-of-the-moment lentil salad, as well as to use in soups and side dishes.
  • How they taste: French green lentils have a pleasantly mild, earthy taste and a creamy satisfying texture.
  • Cook time: These little lentils cook surprisingly quickly, in about 20 minutes.
Chopped carrots, onions and celery in a small bowl.

While some cooks swear by the distinct flavor of true French Le Puy lentils (which are actually grown in the volcanic soil of Puy in France), you can find the same variety of lentils grown right here in the U.S.A — just as delicious and not quite as pricey as imported ones.

A serving bowl with lentil salad topped with spinach leaves.

How to cook French lentils

Score another beauty point for these lovely little lentils because unlike other legumes, they don’t need soaking.

  • The best way to cook green lentils is in boiling, salted water until they’re tender but still hold their shape. This usually takes about 25 minutes, depending on how old they are.
  • In this recipe, the lentils cook with aromatic bay leaf and thyme sprigs for additional flavor. You can omit them and the lentils will taste just as good.
  • The cooked lentils are an easy dinner salad recipe — just toss the lentils with the lemony dressing while they’re warm to ensure they’ll soak up every drop and taste fantastic!

More ideas:

Once you’ve mastered cooking basic lentils, try them in other tasty, nutritious salads such as a Mediterranean-style Black Lentil Salad with Feta recipe, or add them to a grilled caesar salad for dinner.

Buy French lentils online or find them at many large supermarkets.

Warm French Lentil Salad with Spinach and Feta

Marinated Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

Karen Tedesco
This 30-minute lentil salad recipe is made with small green lentils, feta or goat cheese, and spinach, and marinated in a tangy homemade Dijon vinaigrette dressing. It keeps for days! Serve it warm or at room temperature as a meatless meal or side dish.
Print Pin
5 from 15 community reviews
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:

  • 2 cups French green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 large thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup goat cheese , or crumbled feta
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts, optional

Instructions 

Make the dressing

  • Combine the shallot, vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt and black pepper to taste in a bowl. Let sit 5 minutes to dissolve the salt, then whisk in the olive oil until blended. Another option is to put all the ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously until blended.

Prepare the lentil salad

  • Put the lentils, bay leaf and thyme sprigs in a 4-6 quart pot along with 2 teaspoons salt and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, celery and onion to the lentils and continue cooking 5-10 minutes, until the lentils are tender. They will have absorbed most, but not all of the liquid.
  • Drain the lentils and transfer back to the pot or to a serving bowl. Pluck out the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and discard. Pour the dressing over and stir to coat. Add the parsley and spinach and stir through.
  • Sprinkle the cheese and walnuts over the salad and serve warm or at room temperature.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Serve the salad warm or at room temperature. It keeps beautifully refrigerated for up to 4 days. Bring the salad to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.
  • Omit the cheese to make this a vegan salad.
Recipe adapted from My Paris Kitchen:Recipes and Stories.

Nutrition

Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 139mg | Potassium: 890mg | Fiber: 21g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 6214IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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16 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this and it’s a 10/10!!! I followed the instructions perfectly, the only thing I did differently was add beets. I used the precooked ones from the grocery store.

    I had a similar salad at a restaurant last week and I wanted to recreate it, I found this recipe and with the addition of beets it’s even better than the one I had at the restaurant.

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! Very yummy! I substituted arugula (uncooked) for the spinach. Sauted the veggies separately then mixed together with lentils. Loved the dressing!

  3. 5 stars
    Love the recipe. Not sure where the nutritional info came from. A 1g serving size would be very very small, so I’m pretty sure it’s not what was intended 😀

  4. Puys lentils are truly one of nature’s wonders. Good balance of ingredients. Used fresh thyme springs from my garden to give it an extra artisanal flair.

  5. 5 stars
    My husband and I both LOVED this recipe! So easy and so flavorful. I really like that the carrots, celery and onions are cooked with the lentils, and that it’s severed warm (or room temp). And the dressing complements the goat cheese perfectly. We’ll be making this one again before long 🙂

  6. Karen – Just discovered your blog via homies. Your photos are beautiful. Love what you are doing!!

  7. It appears many of us are suffering from too much white…I’m looking forward to green shoots but three feet of snow has to melt first. I agree with you about green lentils. I like adding a little orzo sometimes when I cook them.

    1. Karen, orzo is a fave at my house too. I toast it sometimes before cooking – yum. We saw a little melting this week – yay! But back to Arctic freeze this week it seems..

  8. I may have to make up a batch of these for dinner very soon! I love how simple these are–clearly they’d be perfect alongside so many other dishes.

    1. Eileen, yes lentils are simple and comforting. Just what’s needed about now. They would be great alongside anything!

  9. I love lentils! I can certainly believe that you nust be having a bit of culture shock with the dreadful weather you have had to endure. Take heart! Spring will be here soon! In the mean time, enjoy the lentils. They look wonderful.

    1. Thank you Adri – I cannot wait to see green things again!